kernpoetry.com

Day: August 29, 2015

Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Mexican American U.S. poet laureate.

juan-felipe-herrera

Photo courtesy of PoetryFoundation.org

On September 5, 2015 Juan Felipe Herrera will begin his year-long term as the 21st U.S. poet laureate when he participates in the Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington D.C.
The selection of Juan Felipe Herrera as the 21st U.S. poet laureate was announced in June 2015, Herrera is the first Mexican-American U.S. poet laureate. From 2012 to 2014, he was the California poet laureate. He was born on December 27, 1948 in Fowler, California. He was the only child of migrant farm workers, María de la Luz Quintana and Felipe Emilio Herrera. He lived from crop to crop and from tractor to trailer to tents on the roads of the San Joaquín Valley and the Salinas Valley. He graduated from San Diego High School in 1967. He received the Educational Opportunity Program scholarship to attend the University of California, Los Angeles where he received his B.A. in Social Anthropology. Later, he received his Masters in Social Anthropology from Stanford University, and his Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. Herrera’s writing is diverse and prolific. His publications included collections of poetry, prose, short stories, young adult novels and picture books for children with twenty-one books in total in the last decade. He was awarded the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for Half the World in Light. He has written books that were in both English and Spanish.
When interviewed by NPR, Herrera called being named Poet Laureate a “mega-honor.” On his website, in reference to the successes in his career, Herrera gives “abundant gratitude to my parents, families, teachers and students on many roads. [I give gratitude to] trees, animals, rivers and clouds.” He said about poetry, “Poetry can tell us about what’s going on in our lives, not only our personal but our social and political lives.”
His poem “Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings” can be read at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/183577. There are more poems, which can be found by online search for Poetry Foundation-Herrera. A few of the titles are “Blood on the Wheel”, “Enter the Void”, “Exiles”, “I am Merely Posing for a Photograph”, “Grafik”, and “Punk Half Panther.”
The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress is appointed by the Librarian of Congress. In making the appointment, the Librarian consults with former appointees, the current laureate and other distinguished personalities in the field. The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry is commonly referred to as United States Poet Laureate.